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Torey Krug breaks out of midseason slide with career night against Jets 01.04.14 at 5:46 pm ET
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Through the first quarter of the 2013-14 NHL season, it seemed like Bruins defenseman Torey Krug was a lock to be a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top NHL rookie every year.

Torey Krug

Torey Krug

After bursting onto the scene by scoring four goals in his first five playoff games during the Bruins’ memorable Stanley Cup run last season, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound blueliner picked up right where he left off, recording 15 points over the team’s first 24 games this year.

While the Michigan State product impressed many with his dynamic offensive skill set, he could not keep his great production going, eventually falling into a midseason slump. Prior to Saturday afternoon’s tilt with the Jets, Krug had not scored a goal since Dec. 8 and had just two goals over a 26-game stretch.

Luckily for the Bruins, Krug was able to break out of his recent skid with a three-point effort (two goals, one assist) against Winnipeg on Saturday at the TD Garden. It was the rookie defenseman’s third multi-point game this season and first-career three-point game.

“He played well,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the game. “When he’s on top of his game offensively, he makes things happen. … He got the shots on net, was good and again, just a few times, it’s about him making safe plays at times, and that’s a part of his game that he’s working on right now, but I liked his game a lot tonight.”

Saturday’s contest did not start out well for Krug, as he turned the puck over around halfway through the opening period, creating a Jets rush that eventually resulted in a goal from Dustin Byfuglien, giving Winnipeg a 1-0 lead.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating. …  It’s all about forgetting and putting it in the past and making plays moving forward, and that’s what we did tonight,” Krug said.

Krug would make up for his defensive miscue just a little over four minutes later, as he executed a beautiful cross-ice to right wing Daniel Paille, who sent it past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec to tie the game at 14:06 in the first period.

Said Krug: “I was going to shoot it, but at the last second I saw [Paille] popped back up, and it was nice that it worked out and he put it in the net.”

Krug finally found the back of the net a little over three minutes into the second period. The blueliner fired a shot from the left point that got past Pavelec, who was being screened in front by Bruins left wing Justin Florek, playing in his first NHL game.

“When you’re not contributing it’s tough, but it is a good feeling when you get the first one,”Krug said .”Actually, I was hoping [Florek] got his first NHL goal, I was hoping he tipped it, but it was nice.”

Krug would notch his second goal of the afternoon just four minutes later, as the rookie fired a shot from the top of the left circle that went through the legs of Jets wing Eric Tangradi and was deflected into the net.

With his three-point effort, Krug now has 23 points on the year, including 10 goals, which tie him with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Nashville’s Shea Weber for the league lead in goals amongst defensemen.

The Bruins will now head back out on the road, as they will face off against the Ducks, Kings and Sharks over the next week. While Boston faces a tough task in playing against some of the top talent in the Western Conference, Krug made note of the fact that finishing strong on their three-game homestand at the TD Garden was of the utmost importance for the Black and Gold.

“Yeah, it was important. There’s three teams, I think Claude mentioned they lost collectively six games at home between three teams,” Krug said. “So for us, we know it’s going to be tough getting points in there, and we wanted to finish our little homestand on a high note.”

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Fun while it lasted: Niklas Svedberg solid in first NHL start before return to Providence 01.02.14 at 11:49 pm ET
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It’s been a roller-coaster ride over the last few weeks for Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg.

Niklas Svedberg

Niklas Svedberg

After posting a  50-13-5 record in 70 games for Providence over the last two seasons and capturing the 2012-13 Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s top goaltender, Svedberg was finally called up to the Bruins on Dec. 27 and was expected to start in net for the Black and Gold on Dec. 29 against the Senators.

However, Svedberg’s tenure with Boston was short lived, as the Bruins had to send the 24-year-old netminder back down to Providence on Dec. 28 after a knee injury to defenseman Dennis Seidenberg forced the team to recall defenseman Zach Trotman on an emergency basis.

“That’€™s how it works,”€ Svedberg said earlier Thursday. “You just move on and go back to Providence, play there and wait to get another chance.”

Svedberg would get his chance five days later, as the Bruins once again called him up on Thursday morning before announcing that he would get the start in net against the Predators later that night.

Playing in his first NHL game, Svedberg was impressive between the pipes, turning aside 33 of 35 shots on the way to a 3-2 overtime victory for the Bruins.

“I’m real happy with this win,” Svedberg said. “It’s just one game, but it’s real fun to get a win in a close game.”

Despite a solid first period that saw the Swedish goaltender hold Nashville scoreless over the first 20 minutes, the Predators finally were able to get on the board with 1:56 remaining in the second stanza, as Viktor Stalberg scored off a rebound shot from Mike Fisher to give Nashville a 1-0 lead.

Despite the fact that the Bruins trailed 1-0 at the end of the second period, it could have been much worse for Boston, as Nashville outshot the Bruins by a 16-3 margin in the period, with Svedberg staying steady in net despite the barrage of pucks.

“I didn’t see him [playing] much different from the first to the third, but I thought in the second, when they did throw a lot of pucks at him, he stood tall and made some good saves,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the game.

Despite giving up a goal to Predators captain Shea Weber at the 14:35 mark of the third period, knotting the game at 2-2, Svedberg would eventually earn the win, as Brad Marchand scored 56 seconds into overtime to give Boston the dramatic victory.

“He played great, real good,” said Bruins left wing Milan Lucic after the game. “We talked about it, we wanted to play hard for him and try to get him a big win on his first NHL game.

Svedberg was quick to deflect any talk of what his future is up in Boston going forward, instead focusing on continuing to improve his game.

“I haven’t even thought about it. All my focus was on the game right now,” Svedberg said. “Obviously, I want to play more here, but we’ll see what happens. I just got to keep working.”

Julien announced after the game that Svedberg is going to be sent back down to Providence Friday, but was quick to state that based on what he showed tonight, it won’t take long for the young goalie to once again make a return to the Garden ice.

“I liked his game tonight. I really thought he was good and he just showed us that he’s a guy that we need to look at and keep an eye on and consider,” Julien said. He’s going to head back to Providence tomorrow, but I think there’s a good chance you’re going to see him here again very soon.”

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Claude Julien watches his Bruins implode due to ‘self-inflicted’ sloppiness 01.01.14 at 1:26 am ET
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There were bad bounces Tuesday night. There were highly questionable calls that went against them in the second and third periods.

But in the end, the real reason the Bruins blew a 3-1 lead to the bottom-feeding Islanders on Tuesday evening was a lack of discipline. The Bruins took penalty after penalty, and on Tuesday night, their penalty kill couldn’t erase the mistakes. They allowed four power play goals in eight New York chances in a 5-3 loss to the Islanders at TD Garden.

“I think when we took the 3-1 lead [in second period] we kind of relaxed and they came back hard and they kind of got the momentum back and we couldn’€™t regain it,” Claude Julien said. “They made their own breaks and they made their breaks by getting some good bounces and got themselves back in the game but in the third period, they were the better team, again. We lost because I think it was, like you said, probably self-inflicted. We took a lot of ill-advised penalties that at one point caught up to us and I didn’€™t think our penalty kill obviously was very good tonight.

“A lot of things I didn’€™t like tonight. Obviously our penalty kill wasn’€™t very good, some of the decision making, even again, we talked about our forecheck ‘€“ we were late, we weren’€™t winning battles, they dominated the battle area ‘€“ and when you start losing those kind of things, to our team it’€™s certainly not a good sign.”

What did he see from the penalty kill that made it so ineffective?

“Sloppiness,” Julien said. “You guys got your answer.

Then the subject turned to Tuukka Rask, the victim of shoddy penalty-killing Tuesday. Rask, it was pointed out to Julien, has allowed eight goals in his last two games.

“I don’€™t evaluate players just to ‘€“ you guys can evaluate him the way you want,” a curt Julien said. “All I know is that he’€™s been a real great goaltender for us and players sometimes have good games, they have so-so games, and I’€™m certainly not going to throw him under the bus with everything he’€™s done for us so I’€™ll leave it at that.

“Bad PK tonight. I’€™m not going to start analyzing the game here guys. You guys can do that. I have enough of that to do on my own.”

What caused the high amount of penalties?

“Well I mean if we’€™re going to talk penalties here you’€™re going to have to be specific. What I mean is that, some of them I thought were really bad penalties on our part. Other ones, I don’€™t agree with the [Milan] Lucic penalty at the end.

“To me that’€™s a battle, to me that’€™s a battle and that’€™s what I mean. We can discuss that. To me, I don’€™t agree with those calls. They were made but there were some that, again, Lucic’€™s penalty at center ice and [Brad] Marchand‘€™s, some of those penalties are penalties that ended up hurting us a lot on the road so we have to take ownership of that.”

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Shawn Thornton will have hearing, ‘feels awful’ for hit on Brooks Orpik 12.07.13 at 10:36 pm ET
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Nearing tears in front of his locker stall in the Bruins locker room after Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Penguins, an emotionally shaken Shawn Thornton apologized for his first-period attack on Brooks Orpik in the first period that sent the Penguins defenseman to the hospital.

“Listen, I feel awful. It wasn’t my intention for that outcome,” Thornton said. “I know Brooksie. I’ve gotten to know him over the last several years here. I skated with him in the summer, over the lockout.”

Thornton said he sent Orpik multiple text messages to check on his condition after Thornton was ejected from the game for the hit.

“I’ve texted him a couple of times,” Thornton said. “I feel awful. It was definitely not what I wanted to see or anybody wanted to see.

“Obviously, I made a mistake. I’m aware of it. I’ve been told I’ll be having a hearing. It’s hard for me to say much more other than it was not my intention. I felt sick the whole game.”

Thornton was asked if he felt he was just protecting his teammates after Orpik took out Loui Eriksson and James Neal kneed Brad Marchand in the head earlier in the first period.

“That’s always my job, I guess, to defend my teammates but I’ve prided myself for a long time to stay within in the lines. It’s hard for me to talk about it right now. I can’t say I’m sorry enough. I’m sure I’ll be criticized for saying it but it’s true. I hope he’s doing all right. I heard he’s conscious and talking. I’m happy to hear that.”

Will it change how he plays in the future?

“I really don’t know how to answer that to tell you the truth. I haven’t had enough time to think about it.

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Claude Julien on Torey Krug in OT: ‘He gets around’ 11.26.13 at 11:10 am ET
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Torey Krug was winning battles, big and small, Monday night. (AP)

Torey Krug was winning battles, big and small, Monday night. (AP)

There is a reason the Bruins were so high on Torey Krug going into the playoffs last spring.

They knew the 22-year-old had great puck-carrying ability, great speed and a laser of a shot. All three of those qualities were on display throughout the team’s run to the Stanley Cup finals. Turns out, Claude Julien is trying to unleash them more this season and overtime 4-on-4 play is perfectly suited to Krug’s skill set.

“Yeah, he gets around, he seems to find those gaps and everything else, those holes, and moves around really well,” Julien said after Krug unloaded a cannon past Marc-Andre Fleury Monday night just 34 seconds into overtime for the 4-3 game-winner. “So there’s no doubt it’s an area for him such as other players in the league; you look at guys like [Kris] Letang and other defensemen like that that love that kind of space because they move around so well. Tonight he was in the right place – Marchy [Brad Marchand] made a great pass there – but he picked that top corner; he knew where he was going with that shot.”

Krug knows in 4-on-4 hockey during overtime, he’s going to have more freedom, more space to maneuver.

“I love it,” Krug beamed. “A lot more room on the ice to skate and play with the puck, it’s more of a possession game, you’re not just chipping pucks up the wall and if you watch me play you understand I like to play with the puck so it’s a lot more fun for me for sure.”

He didn’t take long to take advantage Monday.

“It starts with the faceoff,” Krug said. “We had good puck pursuit, I don’t remember much of it but Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made an unbelievable play to me on the far side. Their forwards were cheating a little bit, and I just missed the shot wide on that one and then we recovered the puck and it was just calm composure with the puck, especially up high on the blueline – those are dangerous areas. Our guys were keeping track of the puck and we had really good plays.

“The key is to make sure you hit the net, because if you don’t, it’s ramming out the other way and they’re going to get a break on that. There were a few times when I missed the net; right before I scored there was a shot that, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made an unbelievable pass to the middle and I got down there and I missed the net and I rode up the boards so, your focus is just getting in on that.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Reilly Smith is just trying to ‘keep the ball rolling’ 11.23.13 at 8:22 pm ET
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Reilly Smith (18) beats Cam Ward for his fourth goal of the season Saturday in Boston. (AP)

Reilly Smith (18) beats Cam Ward for his fourth goal of the season Saturday in Boston. (AP)

Bruins coach Claude Julien looks on the ice and sees the skill of Reilly Smith. Then he has to remind himself and others that he is just 22 years of age.

On Saturday, he saw a sure-fire sign that Smith is fully capable of handling the load at the NHL level. With 6:29 left in the second period of a 1-1 game, Smith broke in on Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward and had the puck on his backhand. Earlier in the season, Smith’s eyes might have gotten too big and he might have felt the pressure to rush the shot. But not Saturday. He waited.

Smith took a pass from Carl Soderberg in the low slot between the circles, skated across the crease and flipped the puck just hard enough that Ward couldn’t control it, providing the go-ahead goal, already the fourth of the season with his new team.

“Kells [Chris Kelly] was tied up in front so he kind of set up a good pick, I didn’t want to force it right through and I thought I might have a little more net going to my backhand,” Smith explained. “Cam [Ward] still almost had it so I was kind of lucky that it snuck through.”

Does Saturday’s patience on the goal show he’s getting more comfortable?

“Absolutely, just little things like that where probably a few weeks or a month ago I probably wouldn’t have done that, I probably would have tried to get it on net right away,” Smith said. “With every day, you build confidence.

“Every day gets a little bit easier. When you stay with the same linemates, for a few weeks or a month, everyday gets easier, chemistry builds every day so just take it day by day but I think everything is going pretty well right now, just try to keep the ball rolling.”

With Kelly and Carl Soderberg on the third line, the young winger acquired along with Loui Eriksson from Dallas for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley is looking more and more ready to fit in on a regular basis.

“They just feel better more and more about playing together,” Julien said. “They’re reading off of each other extremely well; I said that earlier in an interview about how they’re just reading off each other, they’re anticipating, so they’re always on top of the puck. We still have some lines right now that are kind of waiting to see what the puck carrier is going to do with it and you hope that with time we can get that same level as that third line is right now of anticipating well. They know exactly where they want to go and where they’re going to put the puck so they’re on top of it all the time and the last few games they’ve had a lot of chances and a lot of offensive zone time.

“Again, we’re talking about a young player here. I keep saying it all the time, we always seem to overlook his age and he’s a young player. And the way I think he’s handled himself in pressure situations and handling the puck a little bit better and holding onto it. And at the same time, I thought tonight he shot the puck a little bit more; he had a little bit better of a nose for the net and before, looking to make plays versus shooting the puck. So he’s really turned a corner and is really coming along well for a young player.”

It’s not just Julien either. Smith is winning over veteran teammates at the same time.

“I didn’t know much about him before he got traded,” David Krejci said. “I know he’s a great player, he’s still young, but he’s playing like a ten year vet [veteran]. It’s good to see him doing well; hopefully he can keep it up.”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Brad Marchand ‘running out of race track pretty fast’ 11.21.13 at 2:22 pm ET
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NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming game against the Blues, the recent struggles of Brad Marchand, as well as other news from across the NHL.

Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

Boston have been rolling as of late, winning six out of its last seven games. Despite the dominant run in November, some members of the Bruins have been slumping, namely Marchand. The 25-year-old winger has yet to really find his bearings so far this year, as he has seen a dip in his production (eight points in 21 games) while increasing his turnovers and penalties. Bruins coach Claude Julien‘s frustration with Marchand has become apparent over the last few days, as Marchand was demoted to the fourth line during Monday night’s 4-1 win over Carolina.

“[Marchand's] just going through tough times right now as a player on the ice and he’s not helping himself at all,” McGuire said. “He is running out of race track pretty fast in terms of some of his decision-making.”

The Bruins will have a tough task in their next game, as they will face off against the Blues, who hold the third seed in the Western Conference with a 14-3-3 record. St. Louis, off to its best 20-game start in franchise history, has gotten a big boost from Alexander Steen, who leads the NHL with 17 goals.

“[St. Louis] learned a lot from their first-round loss to Los Angeles last year, where it was just a battle of attrition,” McGuire said. It was just unbelievably savage the entire series and obviously Steen is off to a great start. It’s the depth of their team. … they remind me so much of the Boston Bruins. They really do.The teams are so similar. … This is a great game you guys are going to have tonight. Unbelievable game.”

Elsewhere in the NHL, a former Bruin’s play is starting to attract attention, as Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas has been viewed as a possible candidate to the U.S. Olympic team. Thomas has bounced back from a poor start to post solid numbers over the last month (2.49 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in November).

“He’s definitely worked his way back into the discussion, I can tell you that right now,” McGuire said. “He’s back into the discussion, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to make the team. One of the reasons why he’s back in the discussion, the injury to Jonathan Quick, who won’t be back until December, maybe even not until the middle of December. The other thing is Craig Anderson and Jimmy Howard have both been lukewarm … and Cory Schneider is sitting on the bench in New Jersey behind Martin Brodeur.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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